Artifacts as Instant Messaging Buddies
Interpersonal awareness is one person’s up-to-the moment knowledge about other group members, while artifact awareness is one person’s up-to-the-moment knowledge about other group members’ work artifacts; both contribute to fluid group coordination and interaction. Many popular computer-mediated communication systems focus on interpersonal awareness, with artifact awareness being a second-class citizen. To better support artifact awareness in this domain, we leverage the widespread adoption and technical robustness of an unaltered, commercial instant messaging (IM) system. Our main contribution is to treat an artifact, such as a document, as a first-class instant messaging "buddy." Our system, Artifact Buddy, gives each shared artifact an interactive presence on IM, providing awareness cues about its editing status and notifications when new versions are committed, enabling simple version control, and facilitating informal group communication. The group’s interactions with and conversation around the artifact are also recorded as part of a persistent conversational history.